Partners in Changing Lives
Ellen Fairclough, Canada’s first female federal cabinet minister, was a Zontian. So was the first woman elected to Hamilton City Council and so is Canada’s first woman in space. Today, Renate Davidson and her colleagues with the Zonta Club of Hamilton 1 are building on a nine-decade legacy of service that has engaged many of the city’s most accomplished and committed women in supporting programs that help women and girls overcome a variety of challenges.
The Zonta Club often works with larger organizations that have the capacity to do what Zonta cannot. That’s one of the reasons United Way is such an important partner. “United Way is an umbrella organization that provides funding for human services. It’s a good fit,” says Renate. “United Way is doing a lot of research on the issues and they’re making impact investments based on evidence. For us – a small organization of 45 women – to be able to partner with a larger body that has the person power to do the research to understand the community is a wonderful complement to us.”
In February 2017, when ArcelorMittal Dofasco employees offered to match community gifts to United Way, Zonta seized the opportunity. Renate says, “I think the fact that we were able to leverage other money is key. We’re a volunteer organization. It’s blood, sweat and tears for us to raise money, so whenever there’s a matching fund out there, we take advantage.” When the Zontians gave more than $72,000 and triggered the match from ArcelorMittal Dofasco, they knew how important that would be to the local community. “United Way believes that the programs it funds can change the lives of children and at-risk youth, help families escape poverty and change the lives of seniors,” says Renate. “Although our focus is on women and their families, both organizations want to improve the lives of people in this region. The synergy is amazing.”